"Il castello e le pastoce" Jolanda Barbieri
to hear the story ...
voice that tells by Jolanda Barbieri
His name was Gioachi and he was a “pastucer“ that is, a storytelling who performed in the farmhouses: on the barnyard in summer, in the shed in winter. Bony, with witty eyes, when he arrived at the barn, on cold winter evenings, it was a feast.
The evening would not have been marked only by rosaries, chiculators and Father Noster.
We would have had fun that night!
“He knew more than the devil”, said Aunt Pina.
We’d have laughed, but we little girls would also have been frightened by his macabre stories, all set in the castle of the country.
Yes… because the stories of Gioachi gave the creeps, made the skin come from now… stories of living burials, stories of ghosts, of apparitions, of characters with eyes of fire and waist belts.
Everyone knew the castle in the village, but he said he knew its mysteries… because he… he said… he was at home!
He told us that when his parents were partying, they called him to keep the company happy, all the more so because he knew how to strut the mandolin and, on his cadenced notes, he told stories whose meaning for us children escaped… but which made us laugh out loud.
It had to be something devilish because the old women, when she started his narratives, were in great trouble they were shaking their ears, they were making the sign of the cross. …“you’re going to hell Gioachi…“ but then they laughed.… laughed… covering their face with their hands. Aunt Pina also laughed, but when Gioachi left, she poured blessed water on the door.
One of the favorite stories was that of VERGINE POVERELLA... from long… long… hair, long to cover... the so-called... and laugh down.
We understood the allusion this time!
The virgin was the blessed daughter of a country family. Beautiful, indeed beautiful… but her beauty will be her undoing. One day Leonardo, the Count's son, a scapegoated young man, came to know that such a beauty lived not far from the castle, in the farmer's farmhouse (and there Gioachi every evening hypothesized a place near our farmhouse to make us feel more at risk of kidnapping). His iridescent white eyes, with thick eyebrows, swirled here and there, checking that all the doors of the stable were well closed: what a fear!
And… when the silence was just a heartbeat… it went on in the story. One bad day, the young man without the fear of God told his servant to prepare his carriage. he took with him Beppe the leghold trap, his most faithful, ready for every vileness.
They approached the maiden’s farm in the middle of the morning… when all the family members were out: who in the stables, who in the countryside…
The poor girl (the name was never known) was in the house alone at that time: she took care to reassemble the rackets of the silkworms. Unaware sang the poor woman, not suspecting the wickedness of men… she was a pure soul!
In no time did the henchman open the door with a pawn and wrapped the maiden in a black sheet that covered her face as well.
in the image of the home page, Jolanda Barbieri with her husband Carmine Nappi
With the help of the villain she was laid on the rear seats of the carriage... and that maiden knew nothing more.
But Gioachi, who was at home in that castle, swore that the poor girl had made a bad end.
There was a well in the castle and at night there were lamentations and human voices coming out of that opening.
He himself had heard her… and his face was crouched, his eyes (you don’t know how) were filled with tears. A cold sweat covered the forehead, the grandmothers were drying their eyes… and we little girls were squeezing each other, holding hands.
That castle stood in the centre of the village right opposite the main church. In those distant times there was the custom, at certain times of the year (the Lent, the month of Our Lady) to go to church for the Holy Rosary.
For us children it was a celebration because after prayers we could be playing in the square until late at night… and we were playing… we were playing… now in hiding… now in the flag… now we are afraid talking about the ghosts of the castle and there was always someone who at a certain point shouted: “I saw it… it was there… behind the tower”...
And rush home
That castle was our nightmare, all the more so that the grandmothers did not lose day to remind us girls that we should not show ourselves vanitous because otherwise we would have ended the Poverella…
“The men – they said – are bad by nature and you have to be careful, lower your eyes… no smile… and change path when you meet them”
One day, however, I had an unexpected fortune.
Gioachi’s wife was the laundress of the castle, and every Saturday she delivered the laundry baskets.
Victory was her name and she was Grandma’s neighbor. I knew her well. On that Saturday, they were close to Easter, there were three baskets, so he asked me to take her.
We went into the castle.
Heart to a thousand!
At the entrance, however, I was amazed to see how warmly the maid greeted us… a half-moon smile!
I was heartened.
We went into the living room and there two distinguished ladies were embroidering and listening to a sweet music… I had never heard that music.
One stood up to take the baskets… approached me and gave me a kiss on my forehead. “Good, you helped Victory… what a beautiful little girl… what’s your name?”
“Jolanda” I answered with a trembling voice.
Then he took me by the hand and took me to a tiny table on which were placed glass trays containing candy and confetti.
I took one of a pink color with oil and a flavor… a flavor that I still pursue today.
I looked at her hands holding my tray: so white, so beautiful, so cared for as I had never seen them… they were dotted with dark spots.
And I thought the rich should have their hands decorated. Of the well, of the ghosts, of the man with the eyes of fire and the waist belt… not even the shadow…
Botticino, april 23, 2020 - Jolanda Barbieri